View From the Capitol - Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler's Newsletter for the Week of January 7-11, 2013
As Americans begin collecting their receipts and other important documents for the upcoming income tax filing season, the National Taxpayer Advocate - an independent office within the IRS - has issued its 2012 Annual Report to Congress. And the key findings are cause for concern.
- According to the Report, it takes taxpayers – both individuals and businesses – more than 6.1 billion hours to complete their tax filings. That’s the equivalent of 3 million people working full-time, year round;
- Today’s tax code contains almost four-million words; and for 2010, the Taxpayer Advocate estimated that it cost individual and corporate taxpayers $168 billion to comply with the code;
- Roughly 60 percent of Americans rely on paid professionals and another 30 percent purchase commercial software to prepare their tax returns
It is counter-productive for American taxpayers to spend this much time and money complying with complicated rules. Our tax code needs to be simpler, clearer, and less complex. Comprehensive tax reform will help businesses create more jobs by ensuring everyone is playing by the same rules.
House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp puts it best when he says of the tax code: “It is ten times the size of the Bible with none of the good news.” It’s time for a change. I was pleased when Chairman Camp announced that his committee is going to work on developing tax reform legislation during this Congressional Session. I look forward to being part of the discussion and welcome your ideas to this important process.
Speaking of the need for good news, I received some this week when I was informed that my Hallowed Grounds Act language has been signed into law by President Barack Obama as part of S.3202, the Dignified Burial of Veterans Act of 2012. The Hallowed Grounds Act will prohibit criminals classified as Tier III sex offenders under the Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act who have been sentenced to a minimum of life imprisonment from being buried at any veterans or national cemetery. A Tier III sex offender is one whose offenses against a child might include the crimes of aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact.
This law is the culmination of an effort that began in 2011 at a town hall in Osceola when a constituent told the sad story of being sexually abused by her father when she was a child. Her father, a veteran, was buried with full honors in a national cemetery. She asked for my help to do something to ensure no other child has to endure this injustice. I am pleased to have contributed to this worthy goal.
On another matter, our new Fourth District Congressional office in Columbia had its official opening this week.
75 to 80 citizens from Boone County as well as some from neighboring counties stopped in to say “Hello” and to discuss their concerns and ideas with me. It was fun to meet everyone. There is a wide range of concerns – from taxes to out-of-control spending to Second Amendment rights, to name a few – with a lot of great ideas on how to address those concerns. I was pleased to have had the opportunity to meet so many of the citizens I am now proud to represent as a result of Congressional redistricting that brought Boone County into the Fourth District. I look forward to meeting the other good people living in the “new” counties of our district and I invite you to visit our office at 2415 Carter Lane, Suite 4, in Columbia.
I am here to serve you and welcome your comments. Have a great week!